Music has always been a part of my life: the last thirty years, or so, enjoying listening rather than playing, but a part nevertheless.
I started out on the piano, but realized that I couldn't reach all the keys so, subsequently, I changed to an accordion. Besides mastering 'The Sidewalks of New York" and a few Polkas the accordion didn't offer the kind of inspiration that I was looking for from a musical instrument. Luckily for me the Beatles arrived on the scene in late 1963 and was immediately hooked by their unusual sound and, what seemed to most of us in the baby boom generation, their vibrant enthusiasm for good rock & roll.
So it was that I took up the guitar and practiced until my fingers were worn thin. This was not too difficult since the first guitar I used must have cost all of $5 and would naturally cause your fingers to be rubbed raw from its unplayable fretboard. In time, however, and with a new guitar, I found a calling for my teen years and pursued teaching the instrument to young rock & rollers who also envisioned themselves being the next John Lennon or Paul McCartney.
A young Lennon or McCartney I was not and having exhausted all possibility to expand my horizons I settled into a sort of 'musical insouciance' that equated well with being an average musician. The daily grind, however, would come to a screeching halt when in December, 1967 I received a greeting from President Lyndon Baines Johnson to join some of my fellow citizens in a little affair known as 'Vietnam' by way of the US Army. Since I was reluctant to take part in this particular quagmire, I joined the US Navy: ships had not yet been deployed to Khe Sanh or Laos.
So it was that I left home and hearth in May, 1968 for Great lakes Naval Training center with the hope of convincing the immediate authorities of Naval Warfare that I would be best utilized as a musician rather than as a submariner floating beneath the ice, or water, of some faraway land. The officials of higher authority did not agree, but I did manage to attain the position of 7th back up guitar at the Training Center. Needless to say, I never saw a piece of sheet music, or a guitar, in my three months at Great Lakes. An aviation electronics technician would be my calling and I performed well, though not brilliantly, for the remainder of my time in Naval hell.
Fast forward to 1975 and you enter upon the legend of Blackwood, or Tucson, or Broken Spoke: all names from transient, perfidious, wandering minstrels that an underachieving country rock band to possibly conjure. We stuck with Broken Spoke and languished in the anonymity of the Drummer's Club to perform regularly with uninspiring ordinariness. Rock bands are not only about music, however, and that is where this history lesson reaches its most important point. Friendships are often made from such unlikely unions as bands or clubs and it was no different with my band mates. The four people joined with me above are special, in that two have passed on to the big country rock band in the sky. The two on either end of the picture, Bob Miller to the left and Pete Loveless to the right, both passed away at too young an age. Their pictures and my memories are all that remain of a special bond.
One of the original members of the group, Dallas Sutherland our bass player, who is pictured below, has also gone to a greater reward than that which can be bestowed upon an aging rocker.
I remember these men for the good gentlemen they were and will leave out foibles that attach to any life striving to place a mark upon our short stay here on earth. As often as I do not regret leaving the musical profession, I wish I could take just a few sets, once again, to enjoy the good reverie that made us musical brothers.
Playing music has not been part of my life for the last thirty years, but remembering our good companionship will never fade from the memory of a man entering late middle age. Rock On Guys!